The Biggest Loser’s Bob Harper is a walking miracle. Two months after suffering a near-fatal heart attack at a New York City gym, he opened up about the health ordeal.
“I was in full cardiac arrest,” said the personal trainer and author, 51, on the Today show on Tuesday. “My heart stopped. Not to be dramatic, but I was dead. I was on that ground dead.”
The heart attack occurred on Feb. 12, when he was doing his regular workout, alongside friends. At the end of the sweat session, he dropped to his knees, then the floor, and stopped breathing. He was unconscious and in a coma for two full days after the heart attack, which was so severe — dubbed a “widow-maker” — that he only had a 6 percent chance of surviving it.
However, he said that having two doctors in the gym helped save his life. They gave him CPR, used an automated defibrillator twice, and kept him alive until the paramedics got there and “jolted me one more time.”
Harper, who remembers nothing about the day of his heart attack, suffered short-term memory loss, so when he regained consciousness days after the incident, he kept asking his friends and family what had happened — and he’d forget again.
“I woke up and I was so confused,” he recounted. “I was like Dory from Finding Nemo, with short-term memory. So I was reliving the heart attack over and over. ‘Wait, why am I here? What happened to me?’ Ten minutes later I was asking the same thing and getting super emotional. My friends were so great. They were like, ‘It was really so sad, but kind of funny too,’ because they were reliving it over and over.”
Considering he was seemingly the picture of health, Harper shared what he has learned about himself from the incident. “It was hugely shocking for me,” he said. “Genetics does play a part in this. It is so important to know your health. I’m a guy who lives a very healthy lifestyle — very regimented. I workout all the time. But there were things going on inside my body that I needed to be more aware of,” he said, later noting he suffered dizzy spells leading up to his collapse. “And I strongly encourage anyone who is listening to go to the doctor, get your cholesterol checked, see what’s going on in the inside so it doesn’t happen to you what has happened to me.”
Harper looks pretty great despite the circumstances. “I’m doing my cardiac rehab Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s been hugely beneficial for me. … I’m feeling good. I’m taking one day at a time — and I’m doing exactly what the doctors tell me to do,” he said. However, he noted that he has also been suffering from depression related to the incident.
As for his future with fitness going forward, he noted that he’ll never workout at a facility where the gym personnel don’t know CPR and there is no automated electronic defibrillator, or AED.
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